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Operation Barabarossa
Part of the Eastern Front of World War II
Operation Barbarossa corrected border.png
Date June 22, 1941 – December 5, 1941
Soviet Union
Result Axis conquers huge areas of the Soviet Union and causes heavy losses on the Red Army, but fails in its overall strategic goal of defeating the USSR in a Blitzkrieg campaign
 Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler
Nazi Germany Franz Halder
Nazi Germany Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb
Nazi Germany Fedor von Bock
Nazi Germany Gerd von Rundstedt
Kingdom of Romania Ion Antonescu
Finland Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
Kingdom of Italy Giovanni Messe
Soviet Union Joseph Stalin
Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov
Soviet Union Aleksandr Vasilyevskiy
Soviet Union Semyon Budyonny
Soviet Union Kliment Voroshilov
Soviet Union Semyon Timoshenko
Soviet Union Markian Popov
Soviet Union Fedor Kuznetsov
Soviet Union Dmitry Pavlov
Soviet Union Ivan Tyulenev
~3 million
3,600 tanks,
4,389 aircraft
46,000 artillery pieces
~5.7 million
12,000-15,000 tanks,
35,000-40,000 aircraft (11,357 combat ready on 22 June 1941)
Casualties and losses
186,452 killed
40,157 missing
655,179 hurt
2,827 aircraft destroyed
2,735 tanks destroyed
802,191 killed
1,336,147 hurt
2,835,000 captured.
21,200 aircraft destroyed
20,500 tanks lost

Operation Barbarossa (German: Unternehmen Barbarossa, named after Frederick I) was the code name for the European Axis's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II. It began on 22 June 1941. More than 3 million men attacked along the 2,900 km front, making it the largest military invasion in human history. It also involved 600,000 motor vehicles and 750,000 horses. Planning for the operation started in December 1940 and the attack was to start on May 15. Its main objective was to destroy the Soviet military power and included some Nazi ideological goals, as well as to make use of Russia's rich deposits of natural resources, which would be helpful to continue fighting the war against the Allies.

Even though the Soviets were in a terrible condition, the Axis did not complete its objectives. Tactically, the Germans held some of the most important economic areas of the Soviet Union, mainly in Ukraine. However, the Germans were pushed back from Moscow and could not start an attack as large and long as Operation Barbarossa on the Eastern Front again.

The winter of 1941-42 began unusually early. It was not noted as being particularly bad by the natives but German soldiers accustomed to warmer temperatures were ill prepared. German equipment broke down in the cold, and some men were still wearing summer uniforms which they stuffed with newspapers in an attempt to stay warm. Many German soldiers froze to death in the extreme cold. It was followed in 1942 by "Fall Blau" (Case Blue), intended to take the Caucasus region and its oilfields. This also failed.

The attack opened the Eastern Front of World War II. In Russia it is called the Great Patriotic War. A few years later, after pushing the German soldiers out of Russia, the Soviets were able to launch a counter-invasion into German occupied territories in Eastern Europe. They invaded Germany itself, and started the Battle of Berlin, the final battle before Germany's surrender. Although the Russians eventually repelled the Germans, it was at a tremendous cost. Around five times more Russians died than Germans.

Operation Barbarossa was the largest military operation in human history, both by the number of men involved and by the number of people who died. The operation opened a theatre in which more men were involved than ever before in history.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Operación Barbarroja para niños

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